Born and raised in Norfolk, Virginia, super-producer Timbaland (real name Timothy Mosley) grew up in the main town near Missy Elliot and only an hour away from Virginia Beach, home to The Neptunes and The Clipse. Safe to say he grew up in a musical area he most definitely is one of the most talented hip hop producers of all time and is among the greats of his generation.
Timbaland met Missy Elliot in high school, and together they joined the group Swing Mobb in the late 1980s. However, rising to fame during the mid-1990s, Timbaland’s career would not begin properly until his departure from the Swing Mob with Elliott. Together the two continued to make music working behind the scenes writing and producing for R’n’B acts, such as Aaliyah, SWV and Total. However, in 1997, when Elliott released her debut album, Supa Dupa Fly, produced by Timbaland, that’s when everything changed.
Timbaland’s first big-time break was when he got the chance to work with Aaliyah on her 1996 album on Aaliyah’s second studio album, One in a Million. This further cemented his credentials as a certified producer. However, what really made people aware of Mosley’s talent was Missy Elliott’s 1997 debut album Supa Dupa Fly.
The entire album was produced by Timbaland, and it was a testament to his skill because it was a good and varied album, with exceptionally varied and interesting beats. This was what made the bigger industry folk take notice. Released through Elektra Records, Supa Dupa Fly peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and went platinum, selling over a million units in the US alone.
It wasn’t long before other artists came knocking, asking for Timbaland’s beats. Justin Timberlake was one of the first artists who wanted some of Timbaland’s carefully crafted backing tracks. Fresh out of N-Sync, Timberlake was looking to make a big impression as a solo artist, so The Neptunes primarily produced the album. However, he did want to include some Timbaland material on his debut album, Justified as well. Together the two of them ended up releasing ‘Cry Me A River’, which peaked at number three, a good result for the pair.
The partnership between the two would continue, and Timbaland continued to grow and grow bigger and bigger in the industry, working with the likes of Jay-Z, Ludacris, Kanye West and many others. Timbaland has appeared on numerous albums, produced numerous albums and therefore listened to what is most likely an unfathomable amount of albums. Having listened to so much music, Mosley most definitely knows have to distinguish a good album from a bad one.
That said, when Pitchfork asked him the impossible to name his favourite album of the last 25 years, the producer responded with ease, quickly proclaiming it was Outkast’s 2003 album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. Explaining why the producer stated, “OutKast’s album Speaker Boxxx/The Love Below was always one of my favourite albums. They brought a whole new sonic to the game and changed the game with ‘Hey Ya!’ and ‘The Way You Move.’ It was just groundbreaking at that time.”
Take a listen to Speakerboxxx/The Love Below below.